Best Place to Let Kids Bang Things With a Hammer 

Adventure Playground

Modern safety regulations for children's play equipment are a wonderful thing. But for free-range-leaning parents who wax nostalgic for the halcyon days before plastic slides and rounded corners, when childhood presented frequent opportunities to unleash one's inner Bob the Builder, there's a little slice of paradise in the Berkeley Marina. After signing away your rights to sue in the event of injury, you can let your child climb, paint, and build to his or her heart's content. The air is filled with salt-scented bay breezes and the "wham! wham!" of little carpenters hammering scrap-plywood additions onto wonky handmade forts, ladders, and seesaws. Despite the liberal lending of saws and hammers to children, park staffers keep things relatively safe and civilized. You have to pick up trash or loose nails or report a glaring hazard in order to use a tool. Adventure Playground is better the older you get. Toddlers might get frustrated by the level of parental vigilance required here. Preschoolers delight in playing pirate or princess on sand-moored boats. Those six and over can ride a zip line. For somewhat self-sufficient kids over seven, there's drop-off daycare. And for adults inclined toward industrial arts or anarchy, this place is heaven.

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